No need to explain, Rogic welcome for Cup

·3-min read

Star Socceroo Tom Rogic doesn't need to explain why he walked out of the World Cup qualifiers with coach Graham Arnold saying he'll be warmly welcomed back for the showpiece tournament.

Arnold has overlooked Rogic in his 31-man squad for friendlies against New Zealand in Brisbane on September 22 and in Auckland on September 25.

The roster for Australia's last games before Arnold settles his World Cup squad includes goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, who has backflipped on international retirement.

It also features seven squad newcomers, including Central Coast Mariners' 17-year-old sensation Garang Kuol.

"Regardless of age, if you just go in full guns blazing, wanting to prove yourself and be ruthless, you can achieve whatever you want," said Kuol, who turns 18 on Thursday.

Arnold announced the squad for the NZ friendlies on Wednesday, a day after Rogic confirmed a move to West Bromwich Albion in the English Championship.

The ex-Celtic playmaker's sudden withdrawal from Australia's World Cup qualifying campaign in May remains mysterious - he cited personal reasons without giving specifics.

"He doesn't need to explain," Arnold told reporters on Wednesday, confirming Rogic was available for the World Cup in Qatar starting in late November.

"The most important thing for me is that he's happy.

"He's a player that's top quality, he brings a lot to the national team.

"He hasn't been selected for New Zealand because he hasn't kicked the ball in a game since May."

Japan-based Langerak, part of Australia's 2014 World Cup squad, quit international football last May when unwilling to leave his family during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When he did retire, I could tell in his voice that it was something that he didn't want to do," Arnold said of the 34-year-old shot-stopper.

Arnold will explore his options by playing two different starting line-ups against New Zealand.

Kuol is among newcomers to the Socceroos squad including his Central Coast teammate Jason Cummings, a Scotland-born striker eligible for the Socceroos because of his Australian mother.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics squad members Keanu Baccus, Cameron Devlin, Ryan Strain and Tyrese Francois, as well as Korean-based defender Harrison Delbridge, also join a Socceroos squad for the first time.

The likes of Adelaide United captain Craig Goodwin, Scottish-based defender Kye Rowles, who still recovering from a broken foot, and Nick D'Agostino were overlooked after being in the squad for the last World Cup qualification games.

"It's not because they don't deserve being in the squad ... it's more about giving these (new) ones that opportunity," Arnold said.

Australia's 26-man World Cup squad must be named by November 13, ahead of group games against France (November 23), Tunisia (November 26) and Denmark (December 1).

Australia's squad for NZ games:

Mathew Ryan (capt), Nathaniel Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings, Harrison Delbridge, Milos Degenek, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devlin, Mitch Duke, Tyrese Francois, Denis Genreau, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irivine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Garang Kuol, Mitch Langerak, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree, Connor Metcalfe, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Trent Sainsbury, Ryan Strain, Adam Taggart, Marco Tilio, Bailey Wright.